Knitting with Beads: Understanding Sizes

I’m still working on Brigitte, the little Mohair Haze cardigan designed by Martin Storey. Unfortunately, life got in the way and I have got a little behind but hope to finish it soon. This is what it is looking like so far.

Brigitte_Back Progress

You may remember from my last post that I was wondering whether or not to include the beads but I thought why not! You can just about see them if you look closely….nice and subtle which is the look I was hoping for.

I did have some transparent blue glass seed beads, as I love making jewellry, but they turned out to be too small. When I threaded them onto the yarn and pushed them along I felt that I would tear all the fluffy fibres off the yarn. So, I needed to work out what size these beads were as I had no idea; I just bought them because I like blue and they looked pretty.

Beads are sold in many places but I found the best place to be the bead stores. I do not remember there being any near me when I lived in the UK but there are several here in Colorado. Before I went I had to get my head around the way they size beads. Seed beads are sized in aughts and written like this: 8/0, 6/0. A size 8/0 bead measured about 3.7 millimeters. How the ‘aught’ sizing came about is a bit of a mystery but the most popular school of thought states that the size (8/0) refers to the number of seed beads per inch (8 beads per inch). Another sizing theory is that the size is based on the rod used to make the beads. The larger the number, the smaller the bead (15/0 is small, 6/0 is large). See chart below………

bead size Chart2

I measured my beads and they were about a 10/0 as they were around 2mm in diameter. So, as I needed a bead with a bigger hole for the yarn, I surmised that 8/0s or 6/0s might work. I took a ball of the yarn with me and placed the different bead sizes next to the yarn. The 6/0 was way to large for such a delicate yarn so I went for the 8/0 and bought 2 strands for $4 in total. Bargain!

The pattern instructions say to place all the beads on before you start knitting but obviously not all on one ball. So before I threaded them on I worked out how many I would need per ball: 320 for the total cardigan divided by 7 balls of yarn. Then I thought I would divide the beads by 6 as the ribbing is quite deep and may take almost a full ball. Therefore 53 approximately beads per ball.

These are the instructions from the Brigitte pattern on how to thread the beads: Thread a fine sewing needle (one that will easily pass through the beads) with sewing thread. Knot ends of the thread together and then pass the end of yarn through this loop. Thread a bead onto sewing needle and pass along sewing thread and then gently slide it along onto knitting yarn. See my pictures to help you visualize the process……..

Bead threading_ABead threading_B

You can see that the beads I am using are quite small and transparent but you could go bigger or choose a colour that stands out more against the colour of the yarn.

Anyway, if you are thinking of adding beads to a knitting I hope I have helped you a little with the bead sizing. If you have got any beads and beading tips that you would like to share with me and my other readers please leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

If you would like to see all the designs from the Angora Haze brochure which includes the pattern Brigitte please click on the link below.

Angora Haze

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Happy beaded knitting!

11 thoughts on “Knitting with Beads: Understanding Sizes

  1. Esther, what a brilliant idea for adding small beads, and they look lovely. Thanks for showing me.
    Hope that you can squeeze some knitting into the festive season xx
    Ps – I am the lady that won the Rowan Denim Knitting Book which is fab, thanks again for that, still trying to decide which one to make first!

    • Thanks Pam….so pleased you like the tiny beads. I will definitely be knitting over the next couple of weeks, especially seeing I am so far behind all the knitting projects I had planned. Do let me know which Denim design you end up knitting; my husband Neil loves his stripey jumper….in fact he has it on right now! xx

  2. If you want to see how to knit with beads, Laura Nelkin is wonderful, she uses a dental floss threader which works really well. Happy holidays

    • Thanks so much for this Karen. You’re right, Laura Nelkin has some great video tutorials on different ways to add beads as you knit. The dental floss and crochet hook method is a fast and easy way to add beads to a stitch however these two methods will not work with the way Martin Storey has added the beads……but you can always adapt his pattern to suit. Check out Laura Nelkin’s website……it’s great! Thanks again Karen for this useful information……Happy Holidays!

  3. Thanks so much for showing us that life gets in the way of everyone sometimes! I look forward to your posts and am busy knitting a very long scarf for Xmas! I have finished the matching hat already! Happy Christmas! And happy knitting!!

    • Yes Di, the last 6 months of this year has been so very difficult for me as my mum has become unable to look after herself and I had to look for a suitable care home for her. I’ve just come back from the UK again, the 5th time this year, where I moved here into a lovely homely care home. That was the most tiring and stressful thing I’ve ever done! But now I do not have to worry about here as she will be looked after and fed properly. Hopefully I can start to catch up on my knitting projects a bit now! A Happy Christmas to you to Di!

  4. Looks lovely Esther. I love mohair haze, its so soft and luxurious.
    I like your beading method. When I’ve added beads before I’ve hooked them in using a very fine crochet hook which works well. You can stack a few beads on your hook and away you go!

    • Thanks Linda……I love Mohair Haze too and it is so easy to work with. I like your crochet hook method, however this would not work with the way Martin Storey has placed the beads…..you could always adapt the bead placing for a way that suits though. For these beads I would probably need the smallest size crochet hook. Can you get smaller than 0.5mm?

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